I have been to Cusco and to the Machu Picchu a second time with my friends. We hiked our way to the train station during 3 days, it was tough but amazingly beautiful.
During both my Inca trips, I have heard about Cuenca - the second Inca capital located in southern Ecuador - and it is said to be a wonderful city in the Andes rivaling with Cusco's splendor. I went to the Wikipedia page to read about it but there were way too many words on that page, so I took the easy way out and went to Google Image, wrote "Cuenca" and saw this:
It seemed to be a lovely little town that the Incas chose for their second capital, so I figured it would be filled with ruins, museums or at least architecture from this great civilization.
Since my friend and I were going up north to Tumbes in order to get to the Peruvian sandy beaches, we decided to pass by Cuenca which is only 5 hours away from there - 5 hours in bus is really nothing in Latin American standards - so we decided to take the next ride up.
As we got there very early in the morning to the largest sweets market ever, it didn't really appear as a small town but rather a big mountain city. We walked around the lovely old town asking about this cliff with the village on top of it, but no one would understand us. I looked up in the dictionary to make sure the words I was using were correct, and they were. People sent us to several different places in town including to miradors (view points), but we still didn't find what we came for.
Though the city was nice with many European influences, like in Quito, we found no Inca influence at all. Not even a museum, an IncaBar, an Inca Kola...nothing. It was as if the Incas never existed there.
I went online to print out the beautiful photo of Cuenca and show it around to people so we could be sent there. Before doing so, I went to the Wikipedia page to read about the city. Here's the story:
Originally it was inhabited by the Cañari - a local tribe - until the Incas invaded and built their own city on top of theirs. So the people of Cuenca actually hate the Incas, which explains the lack of culture about them. Then the Spanish Conquistadores came and invaded the city a second time. The general in charge of the operation, Hurtado de Mendoza, decided to rename the city after his home town in Spain because they were similar: Cuenca.
So I went to Google Image again and wrote "Cuenca Spain", fearing the results. It took about 0.6 seconds to load a bunch of pictures of a little town on top of a cliff - and this is when I realised that we were in the wrong city, in the wrong country and on the wrong continent. We travelled 10 hours for absolutely nothing. Yes, the beautiful Cuenca is actually in Spain, the Ecuadorian one is just another pretty little city!
This is the first time in my life that laziness - not reading the Wikipedia page - doesn't pay off for me, it usually does. Actually we should've gotten a clue when we saw that even the Tourist Office wasn't using the "village on a cliff" picture on their flyers.
We left the city the next morning and made our way to the beach in Mancora. We did nothing. Absolutely nothing. There were beautiful sunsets and colours, that's all I remember.
And then, laziness totally paid off!